Guest post by aphra behn
She's with me. pic.twitter.com/vHPMHMjFvV— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) August 17, 2016
At the 1988 Olympic games, Jackie Joyner-Kersee became the first woman to win gold in the long jump for @TeamUSA. pic.twitter.com/SM21RY7QWn— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 18, 2016
Within a month of their meeting, he not only had fallen in love, but had fallen hard. This was a completely new experience for Edith. Her courtship with Norman Galt had been steady, but bland. Fifteen years her senior, Woodrow Wilson was a brilliant man, a professor, college president and author of several books. He was President of the United States. He was a romantic and passionate courtier. Edith was overwhelmed. Her photograph sat on Wilson’s desk. A private telephone line was installed between his office and her town house, only a mile away. He called often. Letters between them flowed as well, and he sent his private aide to the post office every day to circumvent the White House mailroom. Wilson had been a gifted teacher, and now he was teaching Edith politics and government – a subject she knew little about. She was a quick learner however, and began reading her way through his library. Their letters seesaw between ardent sentimentality and serious and often remarkably confidential political discussion.
During her first full three months as First Lady, from March until June of 1913, Ellen Wilson hosted over forty White House receptions, with an average guest list of 600. Although both she and the President initially appeared on the receiving line s, it was the new First Lady who endured these to the end, at great expense to her health… In addition to the traditional roster of formal dinners during the social season honoring the various branches of government, Ellen Wilson also hosted a spring season of musicales and recitals.
Throughout the war, the First Lady, who preferred to be called "Mrs. Woodrow Wilson," set an example for economy and patriotism. Like other American housewives, she wore thrift clothing, observed rationing, and "Hooverized" the White House, adopting "meatless Mondays" and "wheatless Wednesdays." Instead of paying a gardening crew to maintain the White House lawn, Edith borrowed twenty sheep from a nearby farm and donated the wool to charitable auctions aiding the American cause -- sales of the auctioned wool ultimately netted $50,000. She knitted trench helmets; sewed pajamas, pillowcases, and blankets; promoted war bonds; responded to soldiers' mail; named thousands of vessels; and volunteered with the Red Cross at Union Station.
During the president’s months-long convalescence, Edith imposed a self-described "stewardship" of the Presidency. Seeking to protect her husband’s health at all costs, she allied with his loyal physician to shield the president from all outside visitors. She served as the only conduit to the president. White House usher Ike Hoover recalled, "If there were some papers requiring his attention, they would be read to him -- but only those that Mrs. Wilson thought should be read to him. Likewise, word of any decision the president had made would be passed back through the same channels." Edith faced criticism for her actions, but she was specific that she never made decisions on her own. Though she carefully controlled her husband's days, the charges that she usurped the duties of the Presidency were exaggerated.
The result was often a confused response for the Cabinet, accompanied by their original papers with often-indecipherable notes in Edith Wilson's handwriting, which she claimed were verbatim notes she took of the President's answer to their questions. When the Secretary of State Robert Lansing conducted a series of Cabinet meeting without the President, the first being in October 1919, Edith Wilson considered it an act of disloyalty and pushed for his replacement with the more acquiescent Bainbridge Colby. Wilson requested Lansing's resignation in February 1920. As her husband began partially to recover, she also guarded access to him from advisors and other political figures. When Republican Senator Albert Fall was sent to investigate the President's true condition, Edith Wilson helped arrange Wilson in bed to be presentable and sat through the brief meeting, taking verbatim notes.